The newly-installed commander of Colombia’s armed forces asked his country on Tuesday to not stigmatize the military after a series of ongoing accusations of human rights violations, corruption and illegal spying.
In a radio interview, General Jaime Lasprilla asked not to stigmatize the 228 thousand members of the military over corruption or human rights violations carried out by “some officers.”
Lasprilla became commander of the armed forces after President Juan Manuel Santos sacked nine generals over a series of allegations in the media over illegal spying practices, embezzlement and arms trafficking.
The scandals followed an even bigger scandal about the mass execution of civilians that saw thousands of members of the military indicted for homicide.
FACT SHEET: False Positives
Referring to the arms trafficking allegations for which 15 members of the military were jailed, Lasprilla said that “the Army today has 228 thousand men. First, this is no general practice in the army, and I want to emphasize that we are carrying out investigations as complaints come in … We are singling out those responsible which is why these arrests are taking place.”
Asprilla stressed the arrests made by officials of the Prosecutor General’s Office were related to the latest arms trafficking allegations, even though one of the suspects is also suspected of embezzling military funds and executing civilians to inflate the army’s apparent effectiveness.
The recent scandals forced President Juan Manuel Santos to sack Asprilla’s predecessor, General Leonardo Barrero, and eight other generals. The military purge is the most extensive since 2008 when the so-called “false positives” scandal broke.